Belfast tech firm lands £4.3m investment to encourage sustainable fashion

A Belfast tech company has raised $6.6m (£4.3m) in seed funding to grow its sustainable fashion-focused business.

RESPONSIBLE has been backed by a group of investors under Barclays Sustainable Impact Capital, which includes Techstart Ventures, as well as InPost founder Rafal Brozoska and Nextdoor boss Sarah Friar, who hails from Sion Mills.

The company has developed a technology called Buy Back, which targets fashion retailers and informs shoppers of the residual value of the item they are about to purchase, thereby encouraging reuse.

The buyer is free to wear the garment and return the product at any time in the future in exchange for a credit at the redemption price indicated at the time of purchase.

The company was founded by Mark Dowds, the Northern Irish entrepreneur who previously founded Trov, the world’s first on-demand insurance platform.

“The fashion industry makes billions of items every year and only 5-7% of those garments are sold for a second time,” he said. “We enable brands not only to become responsible for everything they produce, but also to benefit financially from a more circular and sustainable business model.

“Data sources like Black Book and Glass’s Guide have transformed the automotive industry, we plan to do the same in fashion.”

Sarah Friar said sustainable fashion is a key theme for the future.

“Community investing means thinking holistically about the impact of our actions on the community around us. For example, most of us know that it is better to buy old clothes rather than new ones. RESPONSIBLE now makes this more convenient and easier. I am delighted to see another company from Northern Ireland come up with a holistic solution to help our planet.

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